BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The housing market has been one of the few industries to survive the pandemic. However, with more people buying houses, experts fear a housing shortage.
According to a recent report from the Wall Street Journal, the housing market would need at least 3.8 million single-family homes to meet demand. Experts state housing production has gone down during the past decade, which is the main cause. Realtors in Alabama say more first-time homeowners are buying because interest rates are low, which could contribute to the problem as well.
“It’s a good problem, but it is a problem,” Randy Brooks with Avast Realty said.
Realtors who have been in the industry for decades, like Donna Petty with Hamner Real Estate in Tuscaloosa, say this shortage is something they’ve never seen.
“I’ve been in this business for over 30 years and it’s never been this low,” Petty said.
“This year, right to date, we have 500 houses for sale. Residential properties. Last year, we had 700 at the same time of year. And we go back to five years, back to 2016, there were 1,200 houses. And the population hasn’t even varied,” Petty said.
Petty said the housing market never stopped because of the pandemic. She says realtors and other agencies had to get creative to meet said demand.
“A lot of zoom. A lot of electronic signing, but it’s working,” Petty said.
“There was one area I looked. There were 85 homes on the market, and 78 of them were under contract under day one,” Brooks said.
Brooks said some people he’s worked with have their fears putting their property up for sale.
“We talk to sellers all the time. People want to sell, but they are just concerned about where are they going,” Brooks said.
Petty said there are other factors as to why the housing market is facing a potential shortage.
“We have a shortage of land. We have a problem with the cost of lumber and other materials. So that process has slowed as well,” Petty said.
Though demand may be high at the moment, realtors say people are still actively buying.
“They might not have ten houses to choose from. They may have three or four, but they are buying,” Petty said.
Both Petty and Brooks say if someone is interested in buying a home during this time, they should contact a local agent and continue looking at the housing market daily. Brooks says one way the shortage could stop is if interest rates go back up.